For those who do not know the San Antonio music scene, and thus may not know the names Ram Ayala and Tacoland, this time is a period of mourning, and celebrating, a life that meant more to the music community here than can be truly expressed in words.
Tacoland was a mainstay of the live music scene here for most of my time in Texas. It was a grungy little neighbourhood bar that brought in, encouraged, and nurtured a lot of local and non-local bands. Especially in the punk days of the early '80's, you were no one until no played Tacoland. And back behind the bar, gruff and mean-looking, was a teddybear of a man named Ram. Tacoland was his baby, and the bands who played there, his children.
Last year,on the evening the SA Spurs won a majour game, two little punks tried to hold up Tacoland for the small amount of money in the till. They shot and killed Ram.
They also shot fellow bar employees Doug and Denise. Doug died some weeks later, while Denise is recovering. This city was thrown into a state of shock. The music scene was floored; there were no words for the pain, just the music, and the joining together.
The little bastards were caught and face double capital murder charges, but some things cannot be changed.
Tacoland now stands alone, dark and quiet, a continuous reminder of the past, its good times, and its horrible end. There is a broken place in the heart of this city.
My friend Delphine said the other day that she felt the spirit of Ram was guiding her, and others, in this city to rebuild, remake, and keep moving forward. The Wiggle Room, Limelight, now the Red Room....she may have something. The spirit of Ram Ayala is pervasive in the musicians of this city. It is quite possible that through them, and the rest of us who knew Tacoland, he chooses to live on. After all, Tacoland was just a building. It was what went on inside (and sometimes outside on those sweltering Texas summer nights) that made it what it was. It wasn't the things, or the location. Those were what came to mean something to us, but WHY was Ram. The best of what a parent can be to a child never, ever leaves that child. I don't think anyone would deny the influence tha man had, individually, or as a community. I don't think it has stopped yet.
Perhaps, just maybe, Ram is trying to help all of us heal. I know that passing over isn't nearly as hard as being left behind. I suspect he and Doug do too. The one gift they can give from beyond is the knowledge that it is okay to go on living.
I will be checking the shadows from now on in some of these places. I have a feeling Ram and Doug just might be hanging out, watching over their "kids."
Thanks, Ram. The time was too short.